When you look back at Dubai’s art events over the past year, it would be fair to say that a few mountains have been climbed. We have welcomed the city’s first ever non-profit private museum in Al Quoz. The popularity of street art (though not in the physical sense) is continuing to soar (just look at the Tashkeel-based skate ramp modelled on Arabic calligraphy). And furthermore, an impressive five new creative spaces have recently opened in art hub Alserkal Avenue.
This week, 75 galleries from 32 countries will attend the city’s premiere cultural event Art Dubai, running from Wednesday March 21 to Saturday March 24. Five hundred artists will be involved with the event this year, which is part of umbrella project Art Week – a series of art-based fairs and events throughout the city.
‘We have a real embarrassment of riches this year,’ says Art Dubai director Antonia Carver. ‘Our roster of projects involve over 40 artists and span site-specific installations, sound projects, fortune cookies and easy listening tunes. Plus this year’s discussion-based Global Art Forum features 50 speakers and takes in literature, film, journalism, and politics, as well as art.’ Here we sift out the essential tours and galleries to see day by day – as well as provide a handy guide to art terminology to help you talk the talk.
Wednesday March 21
Art Dubai Ladies’ Day This women-only preview to Art Dubai will feature tours by art experts and prominent curators. 11.30am-2pm. Free. Madinat Conference Centre.
Cartier Naturellement Tour The purveyor of luxury jewellery has teamed up with French landscape artist Christophe Ponceau to produce a nature-inspired setting featuring dazzling flora, fauna and wild animals, accompanied by lighting and sound. They will also display a jewellery installation made by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes, which incorporates precious stones. Noon-3pm. Madinat Conference Centre..
Cabaret Crusades: History through the Eyes of Film and Literature Running as part of the Global Art Forum_6 programme, contemporary art curator Hans Ulrich Obrist will run this discussion featuring renowned Lebanese author Amin Maalouf, whose novel The Crusades Through Arab Eyes inspired Wael Shawky’s animation film Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show Files. Discussion will focus on the differences in depicting the Crusades through Western and Arab points of view. 3.15pm. Global Art Forum_6. Fort Island, Madinat Jumeirah.
Marker tour Want to see art from the tropics? Join Yogyakarta-born curator Alia Swastika in this tour that aims to shed light on Indonesia’s growing arts scene. Five Indonesian galleries will be on display, including Ark Galerie, Biasa Artspace, Galeri Canna, D’Gallerie and Jogia Contemporary. 6.30pm-7pm. Register at Marker desk, Arena Foyer, Madinat Jumeirah. Also running the same time on Friday and at 1pm on Saturday.
‘I’m looking forward to the Magic of Persia charity auction and gala dinner [on Friday March 23] because it’s a great initiative to introduce young artists and help underprivileged people. I’m also excited to see the artist talk at The Pace Gallery: Sharifa Al Sudairi, the associated director of Pace, has invited one of the best Chinese artists to attend Art Dubai. Finally, the book launch of young Iranian publisher Ehsan Lajevardi.’ Ramin Salsali, owner of Salsali Private Museum
Thursday March 22
Valued: News and the Markets of Art and Finance This discussion will feature Financial Times art market correspondent Georgina Adam and author Parag Khanna as they reveal how global accessibility to news and information affects the art marketplace. 2pm. Global Art Forum_6. Fort Island, Madinat Jumeirah.
The Breakup MEET THE ARTIST A presentation by US-based artist Michael Rakowitz, whose 2010 multi-media project ‘The Breakup’ dissects the split of The Beatles in an effort to artistically understand the elements that led to their break up as a whole. 3.15pm. Global Art Forum_6. Fort Island, Madinat Jumeirah.
Performance by Koken Ergun Turkish artist Koken Ergun presents a performance-style project in collaboration with The Fridge and UAE-based duo, vocalist Melissa Le Rue and pianist Stoyan Stoyanov. The nightly shows will feature a surprise element and combine easy listening music with commentary. 4.30pm-5pm. Madinat Ballroom Terrace. Also running at 7pm on Wednesday and 7pm on Friday.
Abraaj Capital Art Prize 2012 tour Curated by Nat Muller, this tour will focus on the winners of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize 2012 and will feature the works of artists including Taysir Batniji (Palestine), Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (Lebanon), Wael Shawky (Egypt), Risham Syed (Pakistan) and Raed Yassin (Lebanon). 6pm-6.30pm. Register at VIP Desk, souk entrance of Madinat Jumeirah. Also running at 6pm on Friday.
Performance night at Art Dubai MEET THE ARTISTS UAE-based poets, musicians, academics, curators and collectors converge in this collaboration between Art Dubai Projects and Traffic. Those involved include Hala Al Ali, Anahita Razmi, Lantian Xie and WolfPakistan. 8pm-midnight. Fort Island, Madinat Jumeirah.
‘For secretly narcissistic reasons, I’m looking forward to the entire Global Art Forum. We’re making it notably different to previous years, in terms of form and content. There’s such a compelling array of people generously offering their intelligences to the theme of The Medium of Media, I can’t wait to see how it all adds up.’ Shumon Basar director of Global Art Forum_6
Friday March 23
Arshafa E3lamiya: Middle East New Archive UAE-based writer Mariam Wissam Al Dabbagh has collated a present-day archive about the way in which news is reported in the East and West, and how events are portrayed by Arabic and English speaking news media. 2pm. Global Art Forum_6. Fort Island, Madinat. Jumeirah.
Children’s workshop: From Morocco to the Moon by Yto Barrada and Zid Zid Kids Think you may be harbouring the next Dali? Foster your offspring’s talents with this fun interactive family workshop designed by Tangiers-based artist Yto Barrada. 2pm-3pm. Water terrace. Limited capacity, sign up at the Information Desk or Art Dubai Projects Desk. Also running at 5pm on Thursday and 2pm on Saturday.
Power Less: Art vs Media This discussion, hosted by Delfina Foundation director Aaron Cezar, senior editor of Bidoun Negar Azimi, and artist Huda Lufti, will touch on the role of art in a world where news is changing how we’re informed about political change and where that leaves art. 4.15pm. Global Art Forum_6. Fort Island, Madinat Jumeirah.
DXB Store This pop-up retail outlet will feature specially-designed products from artists and designers including Adnan Arif, Brussellssprout, Alia Al Shamsi and Dogboy. Items on display include iPad cases, clutches, T-shirts and bags. Open daily throughout the fair. Free. Johara Foyer, Madinat Arena.
‘Among the many artworks that will be showcased this Art Dubai, there is a tempest of excitement surrounding artists Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, the winners of 2012 Abraaj Capital Art Prize. In addition to the Abraaj Capital unveiling, which will take place on Tuesday March 20, Hadjithomas and Joreige will have their first solo exhibition at The Third Line, where they will be showcasing their ongoing research on the Lebanese Rocket Society.’ Sunny Rahbar, co-director of The Third Line Gallery
Saturday March 24
Narrating the Broadcast MEET THE ARTIST Bosnian artist Isak Berbic presents an online performance of his recent work ‘Narrating the Broadcast’, in which he reported on the news coverage on the revolutions in Egypt and Libya. Related videos including ‘The Battle for Petra’ and ‘Brief Histories’, will also be on show. 3.30pm. Global Art Forum_6. Fort Island, Madinat Jumeirah.
Performance by Carlos Celdran Each night of the fair, Manila tour guide, cultural activist and Filipino performance artist Carlos Celdran (who regularly comments on society and culture in the Philippines in the media) will perform seven different acts in different locations, each of which will comment on how art, culture and geopolitics are related. 4.30pm-5.30pm. Meeting point in the Madinat Arena Foyer. Book a place on this tour at any of the information desks.
The Hatch MEET THE ARTIST Head to this stairwell-turned-screening room to check out video installations plus talks by artists. Madinat Conference Centre.
UBIK’s Portrait of an Artist through his Statements This edible project by Dubai-based Indian artist UBIK will use fortune cookies to comment on the relationship between an artist and their finances. Madinat Conference Centre.
The visiting galleries you won’t want to miss this year
‘I’m excited to see Chantal Crousel, Rudolph Janssen, Lombard Fried, and Galerie Perrotin. I’m also excited for the debut of THE STATE journal and forum at Sikka Art Fair.’ Rami Farook, owner of Traffic
Platform China This Beijing gallery focuses on contemporary Chinese art. Madinat Conference Centre.
The Pace Gallery This New York City gallery is a leading venue for modern art. Madinat Conference Centre.
Galerie Perrotin A contemporary Parisian gallery owned by art dealer Emmanuel Perotink, who represents famous artists including Japanese Takashi Murakami. Madinat Conference Centre.
Seven Art Ltd One of India’s most cutting-edge spaces, this New Delhi-based space represents India’s rising talent. Madinat Conference Centre.
Bolsa de Arte This Porto Alegre gallery represents a wide range of emerging and established Brazilian artists. Madinat Conference Centre.
The Running Horse Located in Beirut, this art space supports Lebanese and regional artists with a focus on multi-media. Madinat Conference Centre.